This is the performance I bring up whenever anybody disses Queen, whenever anybody talks about how great the music environment is today and whenever anybody talks about great live shows. There have only been a handful personalities in music history who could play a show like Live Aid and nail it to the back wall of Wembley, commanding the stage with the necessary pomp. Mick Jagger (and most of the Stones), Paul McCartney (and the rest of the surviving Beatles as well), Roger Daltrey (Pete Townsend as well), Prince, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Bono and Sting. From that group, only Prince and Bruce Springsteen did not take the Live Aid stage. Up until the point that Queen took the stage, Bono dancing with a crowd member was the standout moment of the day. And then Queen took the stage at 6:40pm. Blew the lid off the mother.
Put your headphones on and watch this. If you don’t have goosebumps at any point in this, we need to have a talk:
Here’s a bit of background about Queen’s performance from a documentary about Live Aid:
I’m not sure if it’s from a documentary called Live Aid Against All Odds (part 1), Live Aid Rockin’ All Over The World (part 2 link is to the first of six parts) a documentary about how Live Aid came together. Bob Geldof pushed it so hard. I assumed that artists would be clamoring to play for charity, given the growdswell of Band Aid.
England stopped that day. I’ll never forgot trying to work, ending up at various houses and they didn’t want a thing to do with us except watch Live Aid. I knew missionaries who planned their day to visit “friendly” LDS families so they could see their favorite bands. I wouldn’t know a thing about that, though. Just stories, from what I heard.
I remember being transfixed through the bit of “Bohemian Rhapsody” at the front of their set but when the intro notes to “Radio Ga Ga” started and I was disappointed, because I didn’t think that was a song strong enough for an event of Live Aid’s scope.
I was wrong.